Before the new CBA was signed back in 2011, teams could spend as much as they wanted on international free agents. This made for some inexperienced teenagers getting crazy amounts of money.
Major League Baseball decided to try and tone this down a little bit, giving teams a pool of money to sign international free agents who are under the age of 23. This pool of money is based on the team’s record last season. Because of their terrible 2012 season, the Chicago Cubs have the second most money to spend in international free agency this season with just over $4.5 million.
Tuesday is the first day of international free agency, and the Cubs have already made a big splash as they signed a 16-year-old shortstop from Venezuela named Gleyber Torres for $1.7 million, which will surely be one of the higher bonuses given out.
According to MLB.com, Torres is the third-best prospect in international free agency. Obviously, at 16-years-old, it will be a very long time before we see Torres at the major league level. That being said, he seems to be advanced for his age with many scouts saying he is very fundamentally sound. He is a player with legitimate five-tool potential as he is very smooth defensively, runs pretty well and hits for both average and power.
It is hard to get excited about a prospect who is so young, but the Cubs seemed to make a good move here.
The Cubs have also signed Dominican right-handed pitcher Jefferson Mejia, who is an 18-year-old that stands at 6-foot-7. Mejia signed for $850,000 so the Cubs still have plenty of room to make more deals. One player that they have constantly been linked to is 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who is considered by most to the best prospect available.
Even if they do not sign Jimenez, the Cubs have already brought in two exciting prospects in Torres and Mejia. We may not see them on any top prospect lists yet, but Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office are once again doing a great job of bringing young talent in to the system. The future is starting to look very bright on the north side of Chicago.